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Best Time to Visit West Coast, USA

From Los Angeles in the Golden State of California to hipster cities like Portland, there's no shortage of iconic destinations on the West Coast. Keep reading to discover vacation ideas, where to go and what to do from one season to the next in this spectacular region of the USA! 
 

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Where to travel by season along the West Coast, USA

If you're looking to celebrate essential American holidays like Fourth of July, New Year and Thanksgiving, the West Coast is probably one of the best places to get stuck into the festivities. Blessed with beaches, nature and vibrant cities, this region is tailor-made for weekend getaways and beyond. Here are some of the top things you can experience in each season. 

Fall - September to November

Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons in the USA. The temperatures do drop, but the weather is still perfect for most activities. While the most northern parts of the West Coast begin to see some snow, the south will be warm and dry with fewer crowds and better deals. 

Essential dates 
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  • Halloween: On the 31st of October, the USA dons a spooky atmosphere all in the name of Hallows Eve. If you want to celebrate the all-American way, why not check out the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval or head to hipster Portland, a city that does pretty much everything with flair! 
  • Thanksgiving: Celebrate one of the biggest holidays of the year on the West Coast! This may be one of the busiest times of year to travel, but the ambience throughout California, Oregon and Washington is special. If you want to skip the holiday crowds and Black Friday sales, get away from it all in one of California's wine regions. 

Best place to visit during fall: Yosemite National Park 

Winter - December to February

While the East Coast and other parts of the USA can get pretty cold this time of year, the weather stays very mild down at sea level on the West Coast. In northern parts of western USA, ski season begins, and resorts get packed with travellers that want to hit the slopes. On the West Coast you don't need to choose between sand and snow, you can do both! 

Essential dates
 
  • Christmas: Discover Christmas magic on the West Coast at a ski resort in Bear Valley or Lake Tahoe.  
  • New Year: To see in the New Year with a bang, head to cities like Los Angeles or Portland. Alternatively, if you want a quieter affair, whisk yourself off to the Big Sur for some camping and hiking. 

Best place to visit during winter: Death Valley

Spring - March to May 

Considering that the West Coast has some of the best national parks in the world, spring is the perfect time to head outdoors. Even if you don't consider yourself much of an adventurer, you can still enjoy the region's gorgeous nature. Along with Yosemite National Park, some other national parks to look into for your spring vacation on the West Coast include Sequoia National Park, Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park. 

Essential dates
 
  • Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival: Head to San Francisco and see spring come to life with pink flowers in Japantown. 
  • St. Patrick's Day: Check out the festivities and parades in major cities like Portland, Sacramento or Los Angeles. 
  • Coachella: Get your hands on some tickets for one of the biggest and most coveted music festivals to see some of the world's best musicians and performers. 

Best place to visit during spring: Take a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway 

Summer - June to August 

As the hot climate descends on the West Coast, it's time to hit the beach! As you can imagine, great minds think alike, so there will be plenty of travellers also hoping to do the same. Lucky for you, thanks to a generous coastline, there's more than enough sand and sea to go around. You can plan a trip to California's world-famous oceanfront piers or explore the peaceful solitude of Oregon's stunning beaches. 

Essential dates
 
  • Independence Day: Experience the Fourth of July celebrations with sizzling barbecues, parades, fireworks and other festivities up and down the West Coast. 
  • Comic-Con: Any pop culture fan worth their salt wants to experience this huge celebration at least once before they leave their mortal body behind.

Best place to visit during the summer: Seattle

The most beautiful places on the West Coast

Get ready to discover one of the most scenic regions in the world. The West Coast is rolling in coastal beauty, vineyards, spots to watch wildlife and places to have a breathtaking outdoor adventure. 
 
You may think California has it all wrapped up when it comes to beaches, nature and picture-perfect cities like San Francisco, after all, the Golden State has plenty of all three of these things. But, don't forget that Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington are two of the most dynamic cities on the USA's West Coast. 

And many people don't know that Oregon's beaches are on another level. They may not have the charming fairground rides and star power of California, but their raw beauty is spellbinding. In Washington, you can explore fascinating towns like Spokane and Olympia before heading to the remote nature of the mountains and woods in places like the San Juan Islands.  

Here are some of the most beautiful places to visit on the West Coast. 

For beach bums 
 

  • Santa Monica, California 
  • Big Sur, California 
  • Monterey, California 
  • Cannon Beach, Oregon 
  • Gold Beach, Oregon

For an outdoor adventure 
 
  • Yosemite National Park, California 
  • Mendocino, California 
  • The Dalles, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
  • Joseph, Oregon 
  • Cottage Grove, Oregon
  • Leavenworth, Washington 
  • San Juan Islands, Washington 
  • Ellensburg, Washington 

For city lovers
 
  • Spokane, Washington
  • Olympia, Washington 
  • Seattle, Washington 
  • San Francisco, California
  • Santa Barbara, California 
  • San Diego, California 
  • Portland, Oregon 

The famous Space Needle defines Seattle's skyline
The famous Space Needle defines Seattle's skyline

West Coast vacation ideas for families

One of the best ways to spend time as a family to deepen your bond and make memories is by travelling together. The USA's West Coast has plenty for grown-up kids, young adults and even your little ones. We've outlined two incredible trips below!

ITINERARY 1

  • Yosemite National Park: Depart from San Francisco and make your way through California's famous Gold Rush Country towards Yosemite National Park. On reaching your destination, you'll have a chance to explore a little before enjoying dinner in your rustic mountain lodge. 
  • Mammoth Lakes: As you make your way to Mammoth Lakes, you'll cover some incredible ground. Experience the Sierras of Tuolumne and iconic sights like Tenaya Lake. When you reach Mammoth Lake, you can take a gondola ride up into the mountains. 
  • Ansel Adams Wilderness - Named in honour of a famous nature photographer, the Ansel Adam Wilderness is an area in the Sierra Nevada region and is renowned for the Devil's Postpile National Monument. 
  • Lake TahoeChoose your own family adventure today on Lake Tahoe. Go hiking or kayaking, or simply enjoy a picnic beside the crystal blue water. 

Discover the full itinerary here: Yosemite & Tahoe Sierras 

ITINERARY 2
  • Seattle: Meet your guide along the Seattle waterfront and take a ferry across Elliott Bay towards Bainbridge Island where your adventure really begins. 
  • Olympic National Park: In Olympic National Park you can show the kids the moss-draped Hoh Rain Forest which looks like something out of a fairytale. Enjoy a little bit of sand and sea at Ocean Shores, and following an afternoon at the beach, enjoy some more family time over dinner in Astoria. 
  • Portland: Next, it's on to the exciting city of Portland. It may be the city of hipsters, but it's a fun place for families too. Make sure you get hold of delicious treats like Voodoo Doughnuts. 
  • Mount Rainier National Park: Spend the day visiting Mount Rainier National Park. There won't be enough time to climb this famous mountain, but you can still explore some of the stunning trails in the area. 

Discover the full itinerary here: Pacific Northwest National Parks 

Find more family trips on TourRadar.

West Coast vacation ideas for couples

Whether you're hoping to rekindle your romance, go on a honeymoon, or just looking for a special vacation with your loved one, the West Coast is a playground for couples. Let the two itineraries below inspire your next trip together.
 
ITINERARY 1

  • San Francisco: After exploring this beautiful city on foot, enjoy dinner on Fisherman's Wharf while overlooking the bay and stop by the Golden Gate Bridge. 
  • Tuolumne: Pass through the foothills of Sierra Nevada, stopping by at a local farm and some vineyards on the way to Tuolumne to get a real taste of central California. 
  • Yosemite National Park: Explore the unique rock formations, deep valleys, alpine meadows and wilderness of this famous national park. 
  • Sacramento: Walk Sacramento's charming historic district hand-in-hand. You'll find 60 restored Gold Rush-era buildings, wooden sidewalks and cobblestone streets and antique lamps, all of it perfect for those cute couple pictures! 
  • Lake Tahoe: Lose yourselves to mesmerizing colours of blue and green. You'll remember Lake Tahoe's crystal blue waters and towering peaks forever. 
  • Sonoma: There's no better way to end your getaway together than in Sonoma. What could be more romantic than a sunset in the vineyards of Californa's wine country?  

Discover the full itinerary here: Treasures of Northern California 

ITINERARY 2
  • Seattle: Diamonds may be forever, but in Seattle, USA's Emerald City, who needs sparkly rocks when you can have lush green scenery? 
  • Portland: Discover one of USA's most dynamic cities! Portland is a little bit of everything: cosmopolitan but charming, and ever-so-cool without trying too hard. It's great for discovering food, the arts and culture! 
  • Cascade Mountains: Explore the astonishing landscapes of Columbia River and Multnomah Falls. 
  • Willamette Valley:  For the pioneers that followed the Oregon Trail, Willamette Valley was the "Promised Land." Find out what brought them here all those years ago. 
  • Redwood National Park: Have you ever seen trees that grow to almost 300ft? You have to see California's redwood country to believe it. 
  • San Francisco: End your vacation by exploring the sights and attractions of San Francisco. Have dinner together by the ocean and stroll below the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. 

Discover the full itinerary here: Pacific Northwest & California 

Find more escapes for couples on TourRadar.

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park

Best cities to visit in the USA in 2020

Asheville, North Carolina - With its burgeoning craft brewery scene and mouthwatering cuisine it was easy for Asheville to sweep a spot on this list. Along with food and drink, Asheville has other surprises in store: old-world architecture, a spooky history and the must-see Biltmore Estate.
 
Santa Fe, New Mexico - Looking for a bit of adventure or maybe some much-needed TLC? Santa Fe is perfect for both. For those that need a little boost in 2020, a visit to Sante Fe's fabulous spas, vibrant restaurants, natural wonders and hiking trails are a must.
 
Nashville, Tennessee - Nashville has been gaining popularity in recent years for a reason! If you haven't been yet, make 2020 the year you check out the city's incredible music history, famous food and hipster neighbourhoods.
 
Jackson Hole, Wyoming - Not far from Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole is the place to lose yourself to natural beauty and observe American wildlife. There's more to this destination than its cosy wild west vibes; you'll also find luxury ski resorts and elegant spas. 
 
Baltimore, Maryland - Baltimore is going through a renaissance of sorts. Boutique hotels and trendy restaurants have put this city on the verge of a tourism boom. Add an array of local attractions and historic sites into the mix, and you've got the perfect getaway! 

Love live music and all things hipster? Check out Coachella!
Love live music and all things hipster? Check out Coachella!

Facts about the USA

Major airports on the West Coast
Los Angeles International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Portland International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Currency
USD
Largest city on the West Coast
Los Angeles
Population of USA
327 million
Safety level
Medium

Climate guide to main cities in the West Coast

This table shows the average low and average high temperature for each season.  

CitySpring - Low/HighSummer - Low/HighFall - Low/HighWinter - Low/High
Los Angeles51ºF/70ºF58ºF/79ºF55ºF/78ºF51ºF/67ºF
San Francisco49ºF/64ºF53ºF/68ºF50ºF/70ºF46ºF/60ºF
San Diego53ºF/69ºF62ºF/76ºF54ºF/76ºF48ºF/65ºF
Portland40ºF/68ºF54ºF/81ºF40ºF/76ºF35ºF/53ºF
Seattle39ºF/65ºF52ºF/76ºF40ºF/71ºF36ºF/50ºF

Browse our selection of vacation packages for the USA

Discover the best of the West Coast and the rest of the USA with one of our vacation packages. Whether you're hoping to visit some of the cities on this page or travel even further to iconic destinations like New York City, our extensive range of tours and travel experiences will take you there. 
 

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